So you have the February Blahs?
It's a malady which strikes the Ol' Columnist at this time of year, much like a right uppercut from the heavyweight champion, whoever he is these days.
You know the symptoms: There's a chill in your bones and your brain hasn't worked on all cylinders since last July and you can vaguely remember what warm weather was really like. Very vaguely.
So there I was driving along in the Ol' Chariot, with the windshield wipers attempting to scrap off the mixture of snow and rain, while dreaming of being toasted on a southern beach. It was then the morbid voices on Bill Good's radio program began relating the problems on our border ever since 9-11.
Of course, I sometimes live in the past, remembering a casual walk across the bridge at Niagara Falls, Ont. and into the U.S. It was a breeze. Or flying to Florida or California was a cinch. But that was before than awful day when North Americans woke up to the realization that terrorists did, indeed, live among us.
When I arrived back at the Ol' Homestead, I began to check out some of the current news stories concerning border security; and discovered something called the border security plan, which I had overlooked.
In keeping you and me up-to-date, here briefly are some of the points put out by Canada's Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day on Friday, Jan.12:
* Canada intends to spend more than $368 million on border protection in the next five years.
And what does than mean? Well, if you work for the feds, there goes your Christmas bonus, and, perhaps, that winter vacation to somewhere humid.
* Some $337 million of that Day bankroll will be spent on the electronic-Manifest program. What's that, you might ask? It allows for computer-automated risk assessments of cargo shipments before they reach Canada, according to the AP story.
And the reason for the eManifest plan was because some 18,000 trucks cross the U.S.-Canada border every day and this is what Day said at Windsor, Ont. when the program was introduced: "I even sometimes surprise my American friends when I remind them that the trade that comes across the Ambassador Bridge in total is greater than all the trade that exists between the United States and Japan."
Of course, Day's pronouncements were in line with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's post-election promise in tightening the security, and rightly so, along the 4,000-mile border.
While security concerning the transporting of goods will increase dramatically in the next few years, individuals will be adhering to a new set of guidelines. Stringent rules will, or are, now being enforced.
When checking with the Canada Border Services Agency (cbsa.gc.ca), I learned that they have a workforce of about 12,000 public servants and provide services at about 1,200 points across the nation and 39 international locations.
Some of the things that the CBSA does (and, of course, they use that word, "we," in all cases):
* We manage 119 land border crossings.
* At 61 land border crossings and nine international airports, we operate on a 24/7 basis.
* We operate four immigration detention facilities in Laval, Toronto, Kingston, and Vancouver for individuals deemed to be inadmissable for a number of reasons including: posing a danger to the public or to national security; unlikely to appear for an immigration process; or for whom identity has not been confirmed.
Then "we" continued with the CBSA responsibilities, which included:
* We administer legislation that governs the admissibility of people and goods into and out of Canada.
* We establish how people and goods move through our borders.
* We detain those people who may pose a threat to Canada.
* We remove people who are inadmissable to our country, including those involved in terrorism, organized crime and war crimes or crimes against humanity.
And the list goes on and on.
As for me, after reading the CBSA "handbook" I think I'd better stay right at home.
Forget about being "toasted" on a southern beach some where.
Could someone sell me a cheap heat lamp and please pass me some suntan lotion?
RAINING CATS AND DOGS (From Uncle John's Bathroom Reader): Meaning: Torrential rain. Origin: In the days before garbage collection, people tossed their trash in the gutter -- including deceased housepets -- and it just lay there. When it rained really hard, the garbage, including the bodies of dead cats and dogs, went floating down the street.